In My Library: The House of Memories by Monica McInerney

The House of Memories

Last night I finished reading Monica McInerney’s latest book, The House of Memories.

I was a tad nervous about reading this book–sad subjects are really not my preferred storyline. But I know what a wonderful storyteller Monica is and therefore I entered the world of Ella and her family feeling safe in Monica’s hands.

There are sad moments, yes. But they are handled with such skill and sensitivity that in no way will you be left feeling bludgeoned or overwhelmed. It’s a beautiful book, executed perfectly. A very clever, touching and deep book, one that will resonate with you for long after the last page.

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Dipping a toe into NaNoWriMo

I don’t know if it’s a good idea or not, but I wrote today, jumped on into the completely hidden waters of my new novel. Why? Simply because it’s NaNoWriMo time, that time of year that sends writers into a frenzy with the challenge of writing an entire novel during the month of November. I’ve never completed NaNoWriMo before. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever started. And I am a day late if I am going to do it this year.

It’s a completely ridiculous time to try to write an entire novel, with a new babe and trying to sell/rent/buy/move/relocate houses. Every day is just a smidge under completely hysterical in our house.

But maybe that’s the point? Maybe that’s exactly the time I should be jumping into the pool to cool off from the high pressure heat of elsewhere?

I was encouraged by Kim Wilkins’ recent post on keeping going even while things are super hard. And I love her fun yet practical idea of picking numbered boxes to motivate the day’s word count.

Today, I clocked up 1909 words. Not bad considering I haven’t actually plotted out my book yet and I just banged them out while the baby was asleep. I’ve no idea where I’m going next but I guess I’ll just have to turn up each day and find out.

Swimming in the dark? Sure… nothing bad ever happens when you do that 😉

Take a Chance on Me signed with Curtis Brown

The Moet’s been cracked

My women’s fiction manuscript, Take a Chance on Me, has found a home with Australia’s esteemed literary agents, Curtis Brown. The way this came about is a fantastic story in itself and one I will share down the track. Oprah defines luck as preparation meeting opportunity. And I’ll throw into that equation a bucketful of crazy inspiration, a few dedicated readers, and serendipity. Mix it all together and my long-held dream has come true.

I’ve been writing for thirteen years and completed ten manuscripts in that time, most with no tangible reward. So it was a fantastically gratifying moment to receive my agent’s (gosh, it’s still fun to say that), Fiona Inglis’s, email with contract attached. The Moet that had been sitting in the bottom of the fridge for six months, determinedly waiting for a chance to pop, did indeed get its way (and left a dent on the ceiling too).

I’m counting my blessings, but I’m also working very hard, juggling a newborn baby, the winding up of the horse rescue charity I began three years ago, selling our house, and finishing another draft of my story. So back to the story I go now, as my dear supportive husband has gifted me an in-house writing retreat this weekend to make good headway and meet my deadline. I don’t have a moment to waste.

Speak soon…

Life Changing Moments

I’m madly editing my women’s ficition novel (Take a Chance on Me) manuscript right now… riding the wild donkey as the inspirational Goddess Leonie calls it. And I am doing some serious rewriting of one of my main character’s journeys. In particular, I’m looking at her motivation and her passions. And it prompted me to think about those life changing moments that our characters need to have, as well as my own. I stumbled across someone’s list on the intermawebby thing where he listed his top 101 life changing moments. I don’t have time to do 101 (I have a wild donkey to ride), but I thought I’d throw out 25 to ponder.

25 Life Changing Moments (in no particular order or chronological plan)

  1. Being shortlisted for the Text Prize
  2. Winning One Book Many Brisbanes
  3. Attending my first dogger sale (horse meat auction sale) and spontaneously saving four horses
  4. Starting my own horse rescue charity (Charlie’s Angels Horse Rescue Inc.)
  5. Having ankle surgery
  6. Meeting my husband as he rushed into Tongue and Groove cafe in West End, late for our first date after we met online
  7. Becoming a teacher
  8. Quitting teaching, turning to unemployment and writing my first novel
  9. Meeting Hercules, my first horse and the subject of my memoir, Webs of Light.
  10. Attending my first Woodford Folk Festival by myself, camping in a cow paddock in 40-degree heat, and going on to to write Woodford Virgins.
  11. Getting married to my love.
  12. Falling pregnant, having a miscarriage, falling pregnant again.
  13. Swimming with a mother humpback whale and her calf in Tonga in 2009
  14. Finding myself alone in Athens, with taxi cabs on impromptu strike, in searing hot temperatures, unable to speak Greek, pulling my luggage over cobbled roads and playing charades with Athenians to find out how to get to the airport.
  15. Getting my dog, Daisy, as a puppy and as a surprise gift from my boyfriend (now husband), forcing us to move out together for the first time so Daisy could be in a dog-appropriate home (and my sister/housemate didn’t kill any of us for having a puppy in a house with no fences, no prior permission to introduce a dog, and two cats living indoors).
  16. My cousin, Ken’s, death when I was 19. Being at the beside of my Nan when she passed away several years later.
  17. Meeting Justin, my first and most significant long-term relationship prior to meeting my husband.
  18. Breaking up with Justin and feeling the pain cleave through my chest until I was sure I would die. And, later, not dying.
  19. Swimming with wild dolphins in Bunbury, Western Australia.
  20. ‘Delivering’ my first foal, Leila, under a full moon at 4.30 in the morning, being splashed with amniotic fluid, wiping the fluid from her nostrils as she coughed repeatedly to clear her airways, and watching her perfect, perfect body spring to life on those long, long legs.
  21. Becoming an aunt for the first time (and the second time).
  22. Moving to rural Australia.
  23. Giving up full time work and working from home.
  24. Working hard in the corporate world, dealing with insane levels of stress and eventually giving myself chronic fatigue syndrome, which took years to recover from.
  25. Buying my first house.

So many more… but I do need to get back to that donkey.

I’d love to hear about some of your life changing moments.

Woodford Virgins now available for purchase!

epub version   

Christmas is just around the corner and so too is the annual Woodford Folk Festival, which begins on Boxing Day for campers. I’ve camped three times at the festival and attended as a day-tripper many others, and it’s still one of my favourite places to be. With such a rich tapestry of events, experiences, sights and sounds, it was little wonder that I chose to “write what I love” and write a novel based at the festival.

A PDF of Woodford Virgins has been available on Scribd for some time and it has received over 8,000 viewings for free on Scribd. Now, it’s available as an ebook (PDF) as well as a paperback from Lulu.com.

I do hope you’ll dip your toe into the spirit of the festival and pick up some fun holiday reading 🙂

The ebook is US$5.39 and the paperback is US$14.96.

Writer Back on Board

Okay, so it’s been a long time since I last blogged! Eight months, to be exact. I’m not going to bang on about it, so let me summarised the great things that have happened in that time.

1. Finished the first draft of my current WIP, a Young Adult entitled The Stars that Shine. It’s a rodeo ‘Romeo and Juliette’ styled novel about two star-crossed rodeo riders struggling to find success and love in rural Australia in 1958, within the confines of social injustices and prejudices, in order to fulfil their dreams. (See, I learned how to summarise that at this year’s CYA Conference, from keynote speaker Kate Forsyth.)

2. Received three lots of highly useful feedback on The Stars that Shine from wonderful writing friends who helped me see the trees from the wood and show me how the reality of my manuscript fell short from the vision that was in my mind, and allowed me to draw out that vision to meet the expectations I set for it in the first place.

3. Attended this year’s CYA Conference in Brisbane during the Brisbane Writer’s Festival, and had the most inspiring moment of the day over a coffee with wonderful YA author Michael Gerard Bauer, who picked up my flagging spirits, injected them with a good puff of wind, and sent me back out into the world again. Thanks Michael 🙂

4. Pulled out a memoir that had been sitting in my drawer for the past two years, shook it off and cleaned it up and submitted it to the Finch Publishing Memoir Prize.

5. Completed several rounds of revisions of The Stars that Shine, and now have Draft 4 with an esteemed colleague for editing.

6. Managed to maintain at least some of my wonderful contacts and friends in my writing tribe, despite living in the bush and not being able to get to all the fun and exciting events that happend in Brisbane, seemingly all the time.

I now sit anxiously, awaiting another round of feedback, criticism and editing suggestions for my current baby, and hoping I can polish it to shine the way I have imagined it for so many years.

My writing space

My writing space changes from week to week, depending on where the messiest spots in the house end up being. I lug my laptop from dining room, to bed, to my office (which I share with my senior cat, Jasmine, so is more often than not referred to as “Jasmine’s room”.)

I do often end up sitting at the dining room table, surrounded by photos of loved ones, bottles of natural medicine that I have in production, paperwork that I still need to do, books of research, bills to pay, a to-do list that keeps growing faster than I can cross things off, various cats and dogs, and (most importantly) direct access to the kitchen, with its kettle and my necessary chai tea. I have recently discovered that chai is my lucky charm. For some reason, I just write better with chai! (There should be an advertising deal in that somewhere…)

 This post is part of the Queensland Writers Centre blog tour. To follow the tour, visit Queensland Writers Centre’s blog The Empty Page.